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Woman fights off intruder

December 09, 1998|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg woman thwarted an attempted robbery Wednesday morning after a masked gunman broke into her mobile home, police said.

Paula Gorman said she awoke shortly after midnight when she thought she heard someone knocking on the front door of her home at Gantt's Mobile Home Park on Grade Road.

Gorman, 29, said she turned on the porch light and opened the front door to find a man in a ski mask pointing a gun at her.

"He said, 'Open the door or I'm going to shoot you,'" Gorman said.

Instead of unlocking the screen door, Gorman said she slammed the front door and ran back to her bedroom where her 7-year-old son was sleeping in her bed.

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Gorman said her 3-year-old son was also asleep in the home during the incident.

Gorman said she picked up a phone and called a neighbor for help, but the gunman broke through the front door and followed her into the bedroom, where he pulled the phone from her hands.

Unsure what the man would do next, Gorman said she went on the offensive when he grabbed a cup of money sitting on her dresser.

"I kind of flipped out," she said. "I said 'No, you're not getting my money.'"

Gorman said her older son woke up to find his mother fighting with an armed intruder.

Gorman said the struggle moved into the hallway outside the bedroom where, she said, she slammed the man's gun arm into a washing machine, trying unsuccessfully to make him drop the gun.

He hit her in the face when she tried to rip the ski mask off his head, she said.

The struggle ended when the gunman ran out of the home, said Gorman.

"He could have shot me," she said. "I don't know why he didn't."

A shaken Gorman said the incident left her frightened for her safety.

"I'm afraid to even be in my own house," she said. "I've never had anything like that happen."

Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Capt. C.E. Keller said the Martinsburg City Police K-9 unit was called to the scene but was unable to find her assailant.

Keller said it is not a good idea to fight an armed intruder.

"It is not a recommended thing to do. She took a chance, but it's not something we would recommend people do," Keller said.

Keller said the gunman was described as a white man, 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a thin build. He was wearing a black ski mask, black pants and a black sweatshirt with long sleeves.

Gorman told police the man was carrying a black and silver handgun, Keller said.

Anyone with information may call the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department at 304-267-7000 or Crime Solvers at 304-267-4999.

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